A cloud-based self-refrigerated shipper ready to handle reverse logistics


A new digital shipping box, developed by partners Ember Technologies, Inc. (Ember®) and Cardinal Health, is poised to reduce waste in the pharmaceutical supply chain while preserving product integrity for consumers. temperature sensitive biological products at 2-8°C for 48 hours. at 72 hours.

As Brian Bejarano, Vice President of Operations, Cardinal Health, reports, the Ember Cube is the only cloud-based, self-refrigerated shipping box that uses GPS tracking technology via the onboard cellular radio to communicate its location. and its temperature in real time at every point in the supply chain, using national parcel networks. Data is accessible through Ember’s proprietary cloud-based dashboard.

Global spending on cold chain pharmaceuticals is estimated to reach over $21 billion by 2024. Source: Biopharma Cold Chain Sourcebook 2020

“This technology offers unprecedented assurance of the integrity and safety of temperature-sensitive products. Additionally, Ember Cube’s return-to-sender technology allows each Ember Cube to be reused hundreds of times, eliminating single-use packaging and potentially eliminating millions of tons of landfill waste,” he adds. Cardinal Health and Ember executives estimate that the Ember Cube will save £7 million in medical shipping containers from the landfill each year.

The new Ember Cube will be available in multiple sizes and will accommodate payloads from 125 cubic inches to 900 cubic inches. For each size, the payload space is designed to be greater than or equal to the space in the EPS and cardboard packaging used to ship drugs today.

The healthcare provider presses the “return to sender” button and Ember Cube uses its built-in cellular radio to schedule a pickup with the dispatch service.

Return logistics

While return logistics has presented hurdles to pharmaceutical manufacturers in the past, the Ember Cube features unique return-to-sender technology to essentially send itself back.

“Simplifying the returns process was part of the product design. Once healthcare providers retrieve the drug from the payload, all they have to do is press the “return to sender” button and Ember Cube uses its built-in cellular radio to schedule a pickup with the service. expedition, automatically providing its current GPS position. “says Bejarano. “After notifying the shipping department that it is ready for pickup, the Cube generates a new shipping label on its digital screen and is returned to the Cardinal Health distribution center. The returns process leverages the same national parcel networks and uses ground transportation to reduce costs. » See it in action at this link.

Upon their return, the cubes are returned to the warehouse, stacked, loaded using vertical charging stations and ready to be used again for the next shipment.

As a leading distributor of specialty pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health will deploy Ember’s cold chain technology to patients through hospitals, pharmacies and medical clinics to deliver lifesaving therapies. “The Ember Cube will be a particularly relevant solution for the many cell and gene therapies in drug development, due to their temperature sensitivity, high value, and need for integrated real-time tracking,” said Heidi Hunter, President of Cardinal Specialty Healthcare Solutions.

Cardinal Health plans to release a customer pilot for the Ember Cube in 2022. Future cryogenic and ultracold versions are currently in development. The companies also aim to co-develop and commercialize Ember’s other patented healthcare industry inventions.


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